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Diplomatic papers reveal bank secrecy concerns

Problems with bank secrecy and foreign taxpayers are nothing new for Switzerland, according to diplomatic documents of the 1960s.

This content was published on August 27, 2009 - 16:27

The latest volume of Swiss diplomatic documents, released on Thursday, includes a 1961 letter from the economics minister worried about plans by the Kennedy administration to extend the US tax system to cover foreign-based subsidiaries of US companies, including those in Switzerland.

Around the same time France was officially expressing its concern about Swiss banking secrecy, alleging that considerable sums were escaping the taxman by being secreted away in Switzerland.

However, a letter from the Swiss ambassador in Paris, written in 1962, says everyone in the French leadership, including top officials at the finance ministry, were anxious for banking secrecy to continue, since they were making use of it themselves.

The new volume covers the years 1961 to 1963. Other issues of concern to Switzerland at the time included European integration, development aid and the status of foreign workers.

The international arena was dominated by the cold war, so other documents reflect Switzerland's security concerns. The period covered by the documents also includes the Algerian war of independence against France, when Switzerland offered its good offices to resolve the conflict.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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